Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt is:
The Top Ten Books That Make You Cry
I cry at the drop of a hat when I go to the movies, but it takes a bit more to get the tears flowing when I’m reading. When I started to compose my list, I quickly realized that my “grab the tissues” books fall all over the map–some kids books, some novels, some essay collections, and even some nonfiction. Here they are, in no particular order–the top ten books that have made me cry:
1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I cried the first time I read this classic back when I was in elementary school, and I tear up every time I’ve re-read it since. I don’t think anyone has a heart so hard that it won’t break just a bit at the end of this book.
2. Heart Sounds by Martha Weinman Lear
This is a nonfiction, first person account of life after illness strikes. It’s the story of the author and her husband—who was also a physician—and what both of them experienced after he developed severe heart disease. This is such an honest book—neither the author nor her husband are depicted as saints in any way–and it’s also a wonderful romantic, modern love story. And even though I knew before I began reading it that the book would end with her husband’s death, I was still choking back tears during the last chapter.
3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I hardly know where to begin on this one. I loved everything about this YA novel and it was one of the best books I read last year. By the end of the book I was a teary, wet mess. When I was done I just had to sit quietly for awhile and let everything settle. That’s powerful writing.
4. The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
This is one of my favorite novels ever. Very briefly, it’s the story of Carrie, a recent college graduate, who is engaged to her high school sweetheart—and who decides that, although she loves her fiancé, she’s feeling trapped, and that she owes it to herself to find out what else may be out there for her. Before she can break things off with him, or even have a real conversation with him about her feelings, he is paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. The dilemma then becomes—does she stay or does she go?
I love this book for many reasons—and one of my favorite scenes is a heart-wrenching, yet understated one taking place between Carrie and her fiancé. They both say so much without actually saying much of anything at all, and it almost makes me cry just to recall it. If you’re looking for a great book club book with plenty of opportunities for discussion—and perhaps an excuse for a tear or two—give this book a try.
5. The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck
This is one of my favorite classics, and there’s one particular scene that hit me hard the first time I read it. It’s the chapter towards the beginning of the book where Steinbeck is writing the internal dialogue of men, women, and children as they are choosing what possessions to take with them, and which ones they’ll need to leave behind. Such mighty yet spare writing! I vividly remember weeping when I read this chapter for the first time.
6. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts
This amazing and distressing nonfiction account of the early days of AIDS made me cry in several spots—both from sadness at the lives that were lost much too soon, and in anger and sheer frustration at the bureaucracy, egos, and fear that allowed it to happen. This is one of my favorite nonfiction books–it’s packed with information and yet almost reads like a novel–but unfortunately every bit of it is true.
7. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
This small chapter book (less than 100 pages) is the story of a boy, his grandfather, a dogsled race, and a faithful dog–and if the ending doesn’t stop you in your tracks and make you cry, I don’t know what will. I used to read this book aloud to some of my classes when I was teaching, and I never failed to tear up at the end. None of the kids ever made fun of me for doing so. The room was always silent when I finished. What a great, moving story this is!
8. The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron
This is a huge collection of writings by the late, great Nora Ephron, but it’s the two 1-page pieces in this 400+ page volume that reduced me to tears. “What I Won’t Miss” and “What I’ll Miss” are two lists Ephron composed near the end of her life. I defy anyone to read them without choking up. I miss Nora Ephron’s voice tremendously.
9. This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
10. Plan B: Further Thoughts On Faith by Anne Lamott
I’m tying these two collections of essays together because each of them contain similar selections that made me cry like a baby. Both books include essays about the death of a beloved dog—and that’s a subject that is guaranteed to turn me into a weepy mess.
How about you? Have you read any of these? What are some books that make you break out the tissues? Please share!